Variations on a Bread Making Theme
Posted on Dec 26 2012 at 04:26:27 PM in Food & Drink
Once you have mastered making bread, additions or changes can be made with the recipe. Discover how adding in some healthy ingredients, substituting flours and even working with dough when you have forgotten an ingredient.
You know how sometimes even the best cook can get distracted and forget an ingredient? That happened to me once many years back, and I completely forgot to put in the 3 eggs called for in my bread recipe. I was so distracted that even when I had only added 7 cups of flour and the dough already looked too dry, I still did not realize what was wrong. I made the bread, baked it and we were eating the first loaf. There was a difference in color that I wondered about. That was when I realized that I had utterly forgotten to add the eggs.
Things like this can happen to the best of us, but what I want to demonstrate with this story is that bread making is a forgiving art. Add a little more of this, a little less of that, and you still have a very good loaf of bread. After that episode of forgetfulness, I got thinking. I tried making the bread with only a half stick of butter and two eggs. It turned out great. I substituted 2 cups whole wheat flour for part of the flour and it was great. I wondered what other things I could do with this original recipe.
Remember that when making a substitution or using a different ingredient, the total amount of flour needed will vary. If substituting 2 cups of whole wheat flour, do this at the beginning of the recipe. This way, toward the end of adding flour, you will know that since whole wheat is a thirstier flour, you will likely need less than the full amount. This holds equally true with flax seed. I often mix 1 cup of ground flax seed into the original 2 cups of flour, mixed with the powdered milk and yeast and add it at the beginning. Flax seed soaks up liquid, so the ultimate amount of flour will be less by nearly a cup.
Another variation I use often is with oatmeal. When the boiled water is poured over the stick of butter, honey and salt, I add in a cup or so of old fashioned rolled oats to the hot liquid to soak. Once cooled enough, proceed with the recipe as stated, knowing you will need less flour than called for. Keep an eye on the texture of the dough, noting that if the dough starts trying to climb up the dough hook, it is more dry than needed. Softer dough will yield more tender bread.
If you like nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, they can be added either finely ground or coarsely chopped, as desired. The amount of flour should not vary widely with the addition of nuts. Use raisins the same way, for that variation. For cinnamon raisin bread, when patting out one loaf of dough, and prior to rolling up, brush the dough with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon, or cinnamon and sugar. If raisins have not been added to the dough itself, they may be sprinkled on before rolling up the loaf.
If you choose a less sweet dough, lower the amount of honey by half, and add in another half cup of water, to keep the amount of dough approximately the same. If you want to use only egg whites instead of whole eggs, that is acceptable. If you have leftover egg yolks and need to use them, just yolks in the recipe will work fine. Either way, remember that slightly less liquid is being used, so either compensate by adding a little more water or a little less overall flour. Eggs, either whole or just the yolks give the bread a lovely golden color. If you want to increase the golden color even more, use saffron. Take a pinch of saffron and either grind to a fine powder or crumble finely and add to the boiling water at the beginning of the recipe. Alternatively, soak the saffron threads in the boiled water, then remove the threads before pouring into the mixer bowl.
If you want to make dinner rolls such as cloverleaf, one loaf of dough will yield a dozen rolls, made in greased muffin tins. Baking time is approximately 12 to 15 minutes. If you would like to make buns, one loaf will make about 6 to 8 buns. Divide one loaf worth of dough into the appropriate amount of equal sized pieces. Take one piece and make a nicely formed ball by tucking under repeatedly. Then either with hands or a rolling pin flatten the dough to an exaggeratedly wide and flat round. It may take some work. Lay these onto a greased baking sheet and allow it to rise. Bake for about 15 to 18 minutes.
These are some of the many ways to make changes and alterations. Get familiar with the dough and how it works and there is no limit to what can be done.
About The Author
My name is Chris Rawstern and I have been on a cooking and baking journey for 42 years. Many people have asked what A Harmony of Flavors means. Have you ever had a meal where the visual presentation was stunning, the smells were incredible, the taste was so remarkable that you ate slowly savoring every bite, wishing the experience would never end? Then you have experienced what a truly harmonious meal can be like.
My passion is to teach people how to create a Harmony of Flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own.
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